- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Police were investigating Saturday the discovery of military-grade explosives in the rubble of a burned structure that was among several buildings destroyed in two separate blazes that broke out in an industrial area of west Phoenix.

The fires started Thursday night as the city was hit with the first dust storm of the summer monsoon season that brought rain, lightning and powerful winds gusting up to 50 mph.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fires, but authorities were looking into lightning as a factor.

As firefighters worked to put out the blazes, an explosion occurred inside one of the structures, Phoenix police Officer James Holmes said. No injuries were reported, he said.

But an investigative team later found dozens of tubes used for explosive devices at one of the sites, with several of them containing live munitions, Holmes said. Members of the Luke Air Force Base Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron have since retrieved the devices, he said.

The investigation was continuing while authorities worked to determine exactly what the explosives were made of and who they belonged to.

“It appears at this point a person may have purchased the cases via military surplus and may not have known three actually contained live munitions,” Holmes told The Arizona Republic.

The fire started at an appliance store before spreading to several surrounding structures, KSAZ-TV reported.

Business owner Luis Torres said his 9-year-old pit bull died in the blaze while serving as a guard dog on the property.

“It’s actually devastating because we had our buddy Duke that we actually lost last night,” Torres told the television station. “Actually one of our best friends, our dog.”

Torres estimated he lost about $500,000 in property, but he said his company was insured.

“It’s like they say, it’s an act of God,” he said. “What can we do? Nothing. Just go with it.”



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